There's Courage, Then There's Courage

John Stonestreet
May 8, 2013
Reproduced with Permission

Unless you've been completely unplugged recently, you likely saw the flood of news stories concerning Jason Collins, the NBA player who recently announced his homosexuality. Collins was called "brave" and "courageous" for the step he took, as the first active male player in a major sport to come out as homosexual.

Now, I'm not interested in questioning Collins's courage. It's likely that this announcement wasn't easy for him. I do think it's worth noting, however, how many pundits and other public figures were tripping over each other to shower him with encouragement, support, and praise. When you get a call from the President of the United States to congratulate you on the step you've just taken, it's a safe guess you really didn't have much to fear in taking it.

But what about the other sports figure who said something bold and controversial? That would be Chris Broussard, the ESPN analyst who was asked to comment on Collins announcement that he was not only gay but a Christian who focused on the "tolerant" words of Jesus. Broussard called homosexuality a sin, and then added, "If you're openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever that may be," including heterosexual sex outside of marriage you are "walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ."

Broussard went on to say that he knew many in his field would disagree with him, but that he hoped they could discuss the subject like "mature adults."

Well, no such luck. Broussard's boldness didn't receive the same response as Collins. Broussard has been called a "bigot," "intolerant," "homophobic," "irrelevant," and even worse.

Former basketball player Kenny Smith claimed that as a black man, Broussard should be more dedicated to "inclusion." (Smith and Collins are both black as well.) The hashtag #FireChrisBroussard quickly became popular on Twitter. ESPN hurried to assure everyone that it was "fully committed to diversity."

I have to think Chris Broussard knew at some level the kind of response he was going to get. So I would suggest - controversial as it may be - that what Broussard did took more courage.

Think about it. Our society increasingly treats sexual license as if it were the highest and holiest of all values, never to be obstructed by anyone regardless of the cost. Merely to suggest that certain rules should apply to sex among consenting adults - let alone to say that God and faith have some role to play in establishing those rules - is to call down a firestorm upon oneself. And, to put it bluntly, to be gay is cool - to be Christian (especially in the traditional, Bible-believing sense) - not so much. Note that Broussard's comments about what constitutes sexual sin indicted many in the NBA, not just Collins. But the outrage was highly selective.

The irony, of course, is the refrain that we just want people to be happy with who they are. Or so they say. But Chris Broussard showed them who he was and suddenly, "just be who you are" didn't ring quite so true. The real belief behind it was revealed, and it's this: "Agree with us, and then you can be what we think you should be."